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In 1898, Charles Canniff James (1863–1916), an alumnus of Victoria College, book collector, academic, distinguished civil servant, and an authority on Canadian history and literature, presented a collection of approximately four hundred volumes and pamphlets of Canadian literature to Victoria University Library. At that time, the library was located in the Alumni Hall on the main floor of Victoria College. James was a strong supporter of the library, and he also donated the Alfred Tennyson collection.
Toronto publisher William Briggs issued an inventory of the collection, compiled by James, as A Bibliography of Canadian Poetry in English, in 1899.
Librarian Francis Louis Barber (1877–1945) presided over the opening ceremony for the C.C. Memorial Room, unveiled on February 3, 1926, on the second floor of the Birge– Carnegie Library. The collection was shelved and available for consultations in the Room.
The collection was consideraly enlarged in 1965 by Professor Paul A.W. Wallace with many valuable additions, such as George M. Wrong’s The Federation of Canada, 1867–1917 (Oxford University Press, 1917), Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna (Little, Brown, and Company, 1927), and Earle Birney’s David and Other Poems (Ryerson Press, 1942), among other titles.
Other notable additions to the collections were made by William Perkins Bull (1870–1948), Professor John Daniel Robins (1884–1952), book editor Lorne Pierce (1890–1961), and librarian David Sinclair (1942–1974).
The library continues to acquire titles for this collection.
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Victoria University Library - Special Collections